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Guest spottedmetal
Discourteous!

I think that there is a perception enlightenment to be achieved. Just imagine what Mabel might be saying to Joan in the bus-queue . . . "The organ was playing nicely as we were coming out". (Apologies to very nice, very courteous and erudite Mabels and Joans!)

 

Haven't we all heard this? It's not the organist who was playing, it's the depersonalised organ. Violinists don't have this problem and pianists sit there :-) waiving their arms about clearly making a good deal of effort. But the organ plays without any effort at all, doesn't it?

 

It's not easy for the organ merely not to be taken for granted.

 

On the Bells and Whistles on Toast thread I have given details of a very mad construction project. It's not for pure self satisfaction jokingly in a back room but the creation of a performance instrument in a very different environment from the norm, breaking down audience assumptions and cultural barriers.

 

Part of the methodology is to enjoy the detail of complex organ music at close quarters rather than it being lost in the heavens of a huge building, perhaps akin to the console experience at St G, Windsor, with the instrument at close quarters reinforced by a large acoustic in the background, and another is to put the console out there in front, centre stage, with the organist and all the action there on show.

 

Non musicians and non-organists are fascinated by what they see and hear as a result. Difficult to achieve in church :-(

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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Last Sunday Exeter Cathedral girls and men came to sing Evensong at my local parish church... Actually being in the congregation was an eye-opener. Although this church is quite traditionally minded, with a choir and something of a musical tradition, I had no great hopes that the congregation would show any musical sophistication. But I didn't expect quite the level of pig-ignorance that was shown.

 

As Vox knows, I spent a hair-tearingly frustrating year as D of M at this particular church. If Vox had asked, I could have quite happily told him to expect the pig-ignorance he encountered :lol: As it was, I wanted to attend this particular Evensong, but just can't bring myself to visit this church again after the unhappy time I had there.

 

I always make a point of sitting and listening to the organ voluntary (unless I can't stand the fistfuls of random notes and odd noises which passes for music in some churches, in which case I disappear quickly lest someone asks me what I thought of it...) but find that I have to give real 'leave-me-alone'* vibes to the various people who try to engage me in conversation the moment the voluntary begins. Do other people find this necessary?

 

*This isn't exactly what I mean, but is quite enough for genteel fora such as this :ph34r:

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Guest Barry Williams
As Vox knows, I spent a hair-tearingly frustrating year as D of M at this particular church. If Vox had asked, I could have quite happily told him to expect the pig-ignorance he encountered :lol: As it was, I wanted to attend this particular Evensong, but just can't bring myself to visit this church again after the unhappy time I had there.

 

I always make a point of sitting and listening to the organ voluntary (unless I can't stand the fistfuls of random notes and odd noises which passes for music in some churches, in which case I disappear quickly lest someone asks me what I thought of it...) but find that I have to give real 'leave-me-alone'* vibes to the various people who try to engage me in conversation the moment the voluntary begins. Do other people find this necessary?

 

*This isn't exactly what I mean, but is quite enough for genteel fora such as this :ph34r:

 

This morning I did my occasional deputising stint at the Christian Science Church and, as always, there was complete silence and rapt attention to all the organ music, before the service, during the collection and for the whole of the voluntary afterwards. It was a pleasant surprise and quite delightful.

 

I remember that when GTB was at the Temple Church the same thing happened.

 

Barry Williams

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Stephen Bicknell's memorial concert was attended by about 200 people. Including famous organists and organ builders.

 

The noise whilst the last piece was performed was not unlike a crowded pub at closing time.

 

Alan

 

Were the famous organists among those talking, though? If so, shame on them!

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Guest spottedmetal
'Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich' from the Orgelbüchlein (J S Bach)

Thanks so much . . . :D I thought so! (I nearly said "I bet it was Bach" but didn't want to slip on a psychic banana skin in public! :) )

 

The issue speaks for itself. Bach is boring, 200 years out of date, taken for granted and treated as musak. The organ was playing very nicely that day wasn't it? To all but the academic, Bach is as mathematical as an automaton. Managing a monster is the spectacle that people want to hear in listening to an organist.

 

I bet a Francis Jackson Festal Flourish would have got them sitting up with the organist showing off the organ's nice high pressure reeds grabbing their attention.

 

I can hear MM telling me know that the organ builders would still have been talking, muttering about how out of fashion the organ was . . .

 

In the past 20 years, the neo-baroque revival has led the organ and the repertoire up a blind alley. That's why I'm spreading the repertoire onto giant incomprehensibly immoderate :lol: toast.

 

Perhaps a thread listing attention-getting repertoire might not come amiss.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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In the past 20 years, the neo-baroque revival has led the organ and the repertoire up a blind alley.

 

 

=======================

 

 

The neo-baroque revival has been going on since 1955.....that's 50 years.

 

Why has it lead repertoire up a blind-alley?

 

:lol:

 

MM

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In the past 20 years, the neo-baroque revival has led the organ and the repertoire up a blind alley. That's why I'm spreading the repertoire onto giant incomprehensibly immoderate :lol: toast.

Didn't rather a lot of Spotted Metal get melted down and used for scrp in the neo-baroque revival............. :):D:lol:

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Guest Cynic
Thanks so much . . . :D I thought so! (I nearly said "I bet it was Bach" but didn't want to slip on a psychic banana skin in public! :) )

 

The issue speaks for itself. Bach is boring, 200 years out of date, taken for granted and treated as musak. The organ was playing very nicely that day wasn't it? To all but the academic, Bach is as mathematical as an automaton. Managing a monster is the spectacle that people want to hear in listening to an organist.

 

I bet a Francis Jackson Festal Flourish would have got them sitting up with the organist showing off the organ's nice high pressure reeds grabbing their attention.

 

I can hear MM telling me know that the organ builders would still have been talking, muttering about how out of fashion the organ was . . .

 

In the past 20 years, the neo-baroque revival has led the organ and the repertoire up a blind alley. That's why I'm spreading the repertoire onto giant incomprehensibly immoderate :lol: toast.

 

Perhaps a thread listing attention-getting repertoire might not come amiss.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

 

 

We needed that Baroque Revival, you know! Think of all the wonderful repertoire from abroad that has become familiar since 1900 or so - and so much of it is wonderful - how would we be able to enjoy the various special effects of mixtures, mutations etc. that have definitely added to what Father Willis and Arthur Harrison left us? Don't tell me that your five-manual monster has none of these stops in the specification.

 

I don't have a problem with classical organs, neo-baroque etc. in themselves at all. There have been some absolutely splendid examples both imported and built by our own craftsmen. We need all the variety we can get. This doesn't stop me from thinking, for example, that I prefer a typical 'English' Trumpet on 4" to a Ralph Downes-approved snarler on 2.5"!

 

We need all styles of organ and we should play more of our own repertoire on the surviving organs from before the 'Scrap all the Strings, scrap the Oboe, add Tierces, Cymbals and a Krummhorn' school of organ experts got at our fine romantic beasts. I like a well-made action of any kind, and I greatly prefer the standard of case- design that has come with this revolution so you may bemoan the change-around, but (for the most part) I don't! Along with saying that we are wrong to forget our own organ literature, we are equally wrong to dismiss the Traditional British Organ as without use or interest, on that subject I am with you all the way.

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Guest spottedmetal
The neo-baroque revival has been going on since 1955.....that's 50 years.

 

Why has it led repertoire up a blind-alley?

50 years . . . well I know, but in the early days it was as gentle as its wind pressures whereas after the BIOS enthusiasm of the late 70s early 80s (in which the Christ Church Oxford organ was seen as a landmark and a triumph leaving some, if I seem to recall, saddened by what was lost) that refreshing breeze became a gale of the strength of the wind pressures it replaced.

 

Blind-alley? Well I appreciate that I'm representing a most extreme view, but that's the value of being willing to do so. In the early 80s I had those two or three BIOS books of the recent organs that had been built, and there was a lot of excitement in them. However all those instruments which people were admiring like the latest Ferraris were only suitable for playing little later than Bach and earlier. Nowadays, the ability to play Bach with delicacy of touch is much admired, and concentration of teaching necessary for pupils to attain scholarships leads to increased pressures at schools to install organs of inverse windpressures.

 

When I occasionally return to my old school chapel, if I don't take my own music and rely on leafing through the volumes on the shelves, there's hardly an item I recognise. It's all Bach. No Widor, Boellmann, Guilmant or Pierne, no Stanford, no 20C fanfares, nothing suitable to show off the best of the splendid organ there. Organ recitals are seen to be the domain of ivory towers and school nerds and HK pupils. My "gunpowder" son does not bother to go - but he loves the recitals here. The sort of music sitting on those shelves is not the sort of music that Great Men who came into teaching after the war inspired their generations of pupils to appreciate hand in hand with Great Organs. The music is neither daring nor dangerous (sounding - of course I appreciate performance skills of Bach - I'm talking perception here), for a generation who know nothing about risk apart from to avoid it at all costs, little about danger and are prohibited from daring.

 

Both the repertoire and the organs are suffering.

 

Bach in church is but part of the background and the mundane. People perceive it as part of the scenery, to be talked to.

 

At least if the organist plays something daring, he won't hear the talking!

 

Think of all the wonderful repertoire from abroad that has become familiar since 1900 or so - and so much of it is wonderful - how would we be able to enjoy the various special effects of mixtures, mutations etc. that have definitely added to what Father Willis and Arthur Harrison left us? Don't tell me that your five-manual monster has none of these stops in the specification.

 

Leading on to daring music for daring organs, bringing different styles into my toaster is an intriguing experiment - and experiment is its value. On one bank of electronics, the Open Diapason is as close to the Hunter Diapason as one could reasonably expect to reproduce electronically - and that's necessary because the Hunter isn't big enough and I don't have space for a bigger for the bigger repertoire so much in need of promotion. A board member here told me that he had put the (excellent) specification of my original toaster together, and that John Pilling loved leathered Diapasons and a few other perceived-as eccentricities. Not even an Arthur Harrison instrument was as leathered as the one on the original toaster - and that stop played next to the Hunter was the cause of me looking for improvement.

 

The funny thing is, that when seeking a bland Diapason stop to blend with many of the non-original (some would say better voiced) stops, I have ended up choosing Pilling's diapason in preference to the rather "better" but obtrusive voiced alternatives.

 

Furthermore, whilst some such as the Desert Organ

http://www.bobrichardson.com/desert_organ_3.html

have chosen two of the add-on units that I'm using, as do many commercially produced instruments in America I understand, when playing using only those units, I'm finding that the sound is thin and lacks the gravitas that I expect. The Harrison style voicing that Pilling reproduced provides that foundation so well and is successfully added to by the additional stops of such a different style.

 

These explorations, of course, are impossible with real pipe-organs, but are potentially invaluable experiments as it might lead us to a rather different view of organ design, particularly with regard to how we continue to preserve orginal Harrison instruments into the future. My playing around with a toaster is not to promote toasters but to enable experimentation that otherwise would be impossible.

 

What is interesting is the way in which John Christie at Glyndeborne

http://www.ondamar.demon.co.uk/schemes/trz/glynde.htm

followed a similar progression from a rather octopodic romantic specification to the addition of some rather more serious (for then) upperwork at least on the great. That instrument would have ended up being very capable for Bach but being able to perform a good deal else besides.

 

I'm sure that with those stops on Christie's solo, no-one would ever have talked during a performance there. (That string section looks amazing with a Cornet des Violes and Musette - and just what is a Vox Mystica? )

 

Sorry - this is a digression on this thread which perhaps should be more appropriate on the John Compton or Bells and Whistles threads - but appreciation of repertoire, and the spirit of the type of beast one plays it on, is all that it's all about.

 

If organists want to continue to play 200 year old out of date music on organs built as, or bastardised into, 200 year out of date instruments, especially of a nature that is so mathematical, people will consider it either to be irrelevant and out of date, or mathematical and played by a robot, and talk through it.

 

As one organist on this thread noticed, long live Lefebre-Wely. If the congregation talk, perhaps changing styles, or hanging on a 7th as someone mentioned, might be a good antedote.

 

(People want a jolly good tune - my wife's been wandering around with Rutter in her head all week :):lol: Not my altogether my idea of wholly jolly good tunes - "gunpowder" son refers to some of his work as "cheesey". )

 

Best wishes,

 

Spot

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Dear Spottedmetal

 

I hate to undermine one of your pet theories but where I go to church the congregation (and the tourists) sit and listen to the voluntary, whatever is being played, including Bach. So it isn't the music that's to blame for the congregation's behaviour.

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

ps ... It's just a personal point of view but I've heard enough about your toaster. I appreciate I'm representing an unjolly view but that's the value of being willing to do so.

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Guest spottedmetal
I hate to undermine one of your pet theories but where I go to church the congregation (and the tourists) sit and listen to the voluntary, whatever is being played, including Bach. So it isn't the music that's to blame for the congregation's behaviour.

. . .

 

ps ... It's just a personal point of view but I've heard enough about your toaster. I appreciate I'm representing an unjolly view but that's the value of being willing to do so.

Dear Justadad

 

Perhaps it's your organ that's inspiring them. Pleased to hear it! Let's see more of those . . .

 

I'll shut up - but there's perhaps a hint of truth in the sort of music one sees in teaching organ lofts nowadays, people's perception of the mundane, and how to defuse threats to good pipe organs. With regard to the latter, some are very closed in their approach and unwilling to apply the scientific principles of experimentation. Sadly it costs to execute experimental schemes with pipes. The experiments that I've heard have shocked me and undermined my preconceptions.

 

Please read Cynic's post rather than mine, and I won't post more.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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If organists want to continue to play 200 year old out of date music on organs built as, or bastardised into, 200 year out of date instruments, especially of a nature that is so mathematical, people will consider it either to be irrelevant and out of date, or mathematical and played by a robot, and talk through it.

I have been to a number of recitals given by some very good (nationally-known) players on a very large heavy-sounding Romantic four-manual built only fifty years ago. Bach on this instrument, regardless of executant, sends me to sleep. Bach played on a particularly good two manual built twenty years ago (as a 200 year-old out of date instrument) made me jump around with excitement. Christopher Herrick's complete Bach on Swiss Metzler instruments (no doubt similarly archaic - no Tubas) has the same effect. Both the Metzler instruments and the nearby two-manual are direct products of the Organ Reform movement, built by leading craftsmen.

 

IMHO Bach suffers from the 'sacred cow' effect. Some are put off by the exacting 'authentic performance' techniques that are in vogue, others show off because they embrace these techniques as a form of superiority. One cannot simply 'just play' Bach. Dig down past the fuss and discover the music, played on appropriate, often very archaic instruments, and it is wonderful. THAT is what needs communicating to the world.

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IMHO Bach suffers from the 'sacred cow' effect. Some are put off by the exacting 'authentic performance' techniques that are in vogue, others show off because they embrace these techniques as a form of superiority. One cannot simply 'just play' Bach. Dig down past the fuss and discover the music, played on appropriate, often very archaic instruments, and it is wonderful. THAT is what needs communicating to the world.

 

Communication is the most important word here. Never mind the instrument. This I find quite electrifying.

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Communication is the most important word here. Never mind the instrument. This I find quite electrifying.

 

I am sorry to say that I did not like this. I found the fragmented pulse irritating and felt that the over-use of the sustaining pedal impaired the clarity. The performance lacked linear direction. I am not really sure what he is trying to say, here - at times it sounded as if he were sightreading. Neither was I keen on the over-Romantic molto crescendo in the middle. I further disliked the smorzando towards the end.

 

However, each to his own.

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I have been to a number of recitals given by some very good (nationally-known) players on a very large heavy-sounding Romantic four-manual built only fifty years ago. Bach on this instrument, regardless of executant, sends me to sleep.

Almost anything on this organ is apt to send me to sleep. (I assume we are thinking of the same one.)

 

Bach played on a particularly good two manual built twenty years ago (as a 200 year-old out of date instrument) made me jump around with excitement. Christopher Herrick's complete Bach on Swiss Metzler instruments (no doubt similarly archaic - no Tubas) has the same effect. Both the Metzler instruments and the nearby two-manual are direct products of the Organ Reform movement, built by leading craftsmen.

I felt the same when I heard Lionel Rogg's Bach recordings on the Grossmünster, Zürich - another Metzler. Very exciting sounds. I have been struck by the number of times a neo-classical organ, or, more usually, a recording of one has elicited praise along the lines of, "I don't normally like organ music, but this sounds so different."

 

IMHO Bach suffers from the 'sacred cow' effect. Some are put off by the exacting 'authentic performance' techniques that are in vogue, others show off because they embrace these techniques as a form of superiority. One cannot simply 'just play' Bach. Dig down past the fuss and discover the music, played on appropriate, often very archaic instruments, and it is wonderful. THAT is what needs communicating to the world.

Well, I don't know enough to be exactingly authentic and I'm long past having a technique I can show off. On top of that I decided long ago that you just can't win with Bach. However you play it, you're going to upset someone, so I do "just play" him to suit myself. Performances I recorded for myself continue to satisfy me musically several years on. That's enough for me. You can worry too much about what others think. But your point was really about digging down and I do agree. Organs with the appropriate tonal qualities make this music jump off the page.

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I am sorry to say that I did not like this. I found the fragmented pulse irritating and felt that the over-use of the sustaining pedal impaired the clarity. The performance lacked linear direction. I am not really sure what he is trying to say, here - at times it sounded as if he were sightreading. Neither was I keen on the over-Romantic molto crescendo in the middle. I further disliked the smorzando towards the end.

 

However, each to his own.

I'm with you, M'sieur. I find the heavily ladelled Romantic expression totally inappropriate for the piece in question.

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Thanks so much . . . :D I thought so! (I nearly said "I bet it was Bach" but didn't want to slip on a psychic banana skin in public! :) )

 

I bet a Francis Jackson Festal Flourish would have got them sitting up with the organist showing off the organ's nice high pressure reeds grabbing their attention.

The memorial service (not concert) took place at the Church of St Giles-in-the-Fields in London, and somehow, I just can't see Francis's Festal Flourish working so effectively on Bill Drake's organ restoration there.

What? No Mirabilis? I hear you say...

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I'm with you, M'sieur. I find the heavily ladelled Romantic expression totally inappropriate for the piece in question.

 

Oh, I never said I liked it! I only said I found it electrifying in terms of communication and control. I love the musicianship. That's not the same as liking the performance.

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The memorial service (not concert) took place at the Church of St Giles-in-the-Fields in London, and somehow, I just can't see Francis's Festal Flourish working so effectively on Bill Drake's organ restoration there.

What? No Mirabilis? I hear you say...

 

Well, if the G&D reeds are anything like those at Limehouse, the last thing you need is extra pressure.

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